December 2018: Micha performs twelve concerts in ten days in the eastern and central regions of Cuba. When it arrives at the places of the presentations, before the show begins, the sites are empty, inhabited only by those who work there. Two hours later, although no one else fits, people are left waiting outside the spaces with the hope of not missing their return. Many are there to see their idol, others out of sheer curiosity, but the truth is that they are all there.
January 2019: nightclubs in the capital, specifically Don Cangrejo and Mío y Tuyo. People look forward to what is to come. The expectation is the same; Many want to listen to who made them dance a few years ago, others just want to see what has changed so that they have become an international artist.
After two years without stepping on a stage of his land, Michael Sierra Miranda returns to the island to travel from end to end. With approximately fifteen concerts in less than two weeks, El Micha reminds the consuming public of urban music why it is one of the most recognized exponents of the genre inside and outside of Cuba. Under the cry of "party, which came dad" begins each concert. For some, it is a reggaeton on stage; for others, he is a master in the art of improvising; for me, he is a village artist who has a lot to say and with whom I had the pleasure of talking.
-Who is El Micha?
-The Micha is called Michael Sierra Miranda. I was born in Buena Vista and raised in the Electrical Distribution. I used to play basketball and right now I am an artist that thanks to the Cuban people has become international.
-How do you get to music?
-I got to the music going to a disco that was in Mantilla called Menocal, which is one of the first where reggaeton entered. That's where I started making urban music; You know, I always went up to download and especially to improvise. He also went frequently to the Alamar rap clubs. Mine was always improvising, I never had songs or anything.
"The urban genre comes from the neighborhood and many people want to do it without having real knowledge of, as Gente de Zona says," what it is to live in a humble neighborhood ".»
-When did you decide that music would be your way of life?
-It was all for Pipey. He was the one who embellished me to do my things alone. From that moment on, I decided to make music because I saw that it was easy for me and, also, because I realized that it had benefits. People danced, women shot photos, everyone wanted to have something to do with you ... you know.
-What's different about your musical proposal?
-I think the difference in the first place is that it really comes from the neighborhood. The urban genre comes from the neighborhood and many people want to do it without having real knowledge of, as Gente de Zona says, "what it is to live in a humble neighborhood". For this you have to be the real street, it is not enough to imitate it. What happens with my music is that I put a little of the mischief that of the street, I put a little Cuban flavor. When you start to study what I do well, you realize that it has the flavor of the Cuban's enjoyment, it has our rhythms with which people identify. That's why they can dance and enjoy it.
-Do you think your music has a seal, an identity?
-Yeah sure. The first seal is the voice, and in second place is the music. Music is always going to be different because of the influences that I have and because I want it to be different.
-When we listen to your music we can notice that there are very strong influences of two musical styles mainly: reggaeton and rap. In which of the two styles does the Micha feel more comfortable? Are you more rapper or more reggaeton?
-I'm rapper. Reggaeton has become my way of life because undeniably it brings you more income. There has always been more public, women enjoy it, people understand it, it is closer to them, at least here in Cuba. It makes me feel good to see people dancing. With hip hop here in the country the same thing does not happen, but even so I feel more comfortable in rap.
-A question is imposed, then: What are your sound references? Who are your employers to follow nationally and internationally?
-From kid I always heard a lot of rumba, I got into the plants, the touches, I was always involved in everything. I also listened a lot to hip hop: Tupac, Notorious (Big), Lauryn Hill, WuTang Clan. Like, I liked the Caribbean, Jamaican music, the influence of reggae, Bob Marley. Everything that sounds like African music also I like.
-Precisely because of that influence of hip hop that you have, who compares your work with the proposal of other exponents of urban music, specifically the Cuban reggaeton, may come to consider that your proposal is not the most genuine within the Cuban reggaeton . If to this you add the fact that really in your work there are not many elements of the island's popular dance music like bombs, punch, etc ... so, I ask you: Do you intend in your productions this absence of communicating vessels with Cuban popular dance music? Why?
-From the beginning of my career I wanted to have a lot to do with the reggaeton pattern internationally. I think that when you put metal rope or a bomb, you type more into what is playing in Cuba. I always had the vision of transcending borders, and thank God that is what is happening with me, it is what I am living. It was a dream that I had and that today I am fulfilling. I never wanted to put any of those elements, I do not like them. Once I tried and I did not feel comfortable, that music was not me. My desire was always to do it the way I do today, without metals, without a pump, just my music as I feel it.
-However, do you consider yourself an exponent of Cuban reggaeton?
- Sure, I'm Cuban and I feel good Cuban. My roots are good from the street, good neighborhood and that is what you see, what identifies me.
-Today you have an outstanding career internationally. You present yourself on stages around the world, your music is heard in different countries, you sing with world-class figures ... How much of that success is due to your previous career in Cuba and to the Cuban public?
-I owe everything to the Cuban people. I thank you from the beginning to the public of Mantilla, Párraga, Fraternidad. They were the ones who gave me the strength to move forward. Despite a thousand trips I've had, a thousand, one that was worth a thousand ... I think that gave me more strength, gave me this vision to see the right path. It allowed me to know that I was very strong in the heart of the town. If what happened to me happens to someone else, I know it would be very difficult to grow up again. But I am humble, I have always been the same with people and that is why people have always been there for me. In the worst moment of my life they answered me and I thank them very much.
-So ... if you owe the Cuban people so much, why spend two years without presenting yourself in Cuba?
-Easily ... I had to leave for the United States to [obtain] residence, to achieve that you have to be there a year and a half or so. Then began to come international proposals. I have sung with Gilberto Santa Rosa and with Cosculluela at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico, on tours of Europe. I have collaborated with Farruko, with Bryant Myers, with all the exponents of the first level of international urban music. That has forced me to move away from the country a bit, but I have already returned and I have made a very big effort. We have circled Cuba offering concerts for 10 days in a row. It seems easy but it is difficult.
«I'm a rapper. Reggaeton has become my way of life because undeniably it brings you more income. There has always been more public, women enjoy it, people understand it, it is closer to them, at least here in Cuba. It makes me feel good to see people dancing. "
-Thanks to the experience you have gained from contact with all these artists of urban music at an international level, how do you assess the health of the urban movement in Cuba?
- Currently urban music in the country does not enjoy the best health. In the first place, because all the exponents of first level in Cuba are absent or absent very frequently. It is there that people take advantage and leave one or another exponent doing it their own way, without following any pattern, without respecting. That which causes is that the people who know -the [Cuban] Music Institute, the musicians with a strong career who really know about popular music- are valuing a whole genre from So-and-so who did this or Mengano who did the other. That does not do well. To grow you have to grow up and to get out you have to go out. I think it is the moment of the genre to expand; It was our turn to have a group go out and grow internationally. That's what's happening. But unfortunately here in Cuba is not enjoying good health and we have to take care of ourselves to give respect to the genre with good songs, with lyrics with sense ...
-Do you think that reggaeton brings any value to Cuban music, do you think it can transcend to become part of the Cuban sound spectrum?
-I think he has not earned it yet, we have not earned it, although many of the exponents say yes. We ourselves have been responsible for dirtying the genre. Cuba has many rhythms of its own, a lot of music, a lot of history that does not deserve to be muddied with all that is being done. First of all, we must respect the pattern of Cuban music so that tomorrow we can be part of that great musical history that this island has. But even though that is being treated, it is very difficult for us to get to position ourselves in an important place within Cuban music because reggaeton is not ours, it was not born here. The reguetón is from Puerto Rico, from Panama, we have simply adopted it and done it our way, always trying to take it to other levels.
Unfortunately, thank God, many colleagues are not doing well, they do not have a respectful pen, they are doing things to the crazy. In the end, each one does it his way. I will always do it with respect. In my songs you will never see a bad word, a rudeness. Now, I prefer that Cuba continues to be respected for the musicality it has always had, for all its genres, its great performers; and not stain the history of Cuban music with the booze that is happening now with urban music, which I do not think is right.
-How does El Micha feel when returning home and playing for the Cuban public?
-I feel super. This is my home. Children who leave and return are not bad; and I'm back. I'm going to do it well done and I'm going to look for ways to take Cuba's gender to another level, always with respect, with tenacity and with intelligence. I never liked having anything to do with the peloton. Let them follow each one in their own, doing what they are doing that I am going to make it nice, with pride and I will show it. It's all about time. Cuban music is super rich and I admire it a lot. The only thing I would like is that one day, if it is possible and I manage to take the genre to another level, that day I would like at least to mention my name.